The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
The Workers Disperse
Women Miners from Siglo XX Mine, Alison Spedding, 2018. "The Workers Disperse", The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics, Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragán, Xavier Albó, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale
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The neoliberal state, the media, and international-development institutions spoke in terms of disembodied concepts such as “restructuring” and “relocation,” but the massive layoffs from the mines in the late 1980s had very human effects. The adversity faced by mineworkers included concrete challenges such as the effectively forced migration of families to La Paz or Cochabamba and the diffculties in finding new work in times of economic contraction. The mineworkers faced more subtle challenges as well, such as discrimination on the part of their new neighbors, the psychological pressure of suddenly being without a job or income, and the fact that they no longer enjoyed the solidarity that came with living together in tight communities. Yet as these accounts of women who formerly lived in the Siglo XX mines reveal, the “relocated” workers also took with them impressive reserves of organizing experience and of personal dignity, which they used to build relations of community and solidarity in their new surroundings.